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Before Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard wanted to be thought of like one of his pulp fiction heroes

In 1938, L. Ron Hubbard was a 27-year-old budding celebrity living in Bremerton, Washington, across the Puget Sound from Seattle, and in relative obscurity.

He’d been making a name for himself in recent years by selling stories to pulp monthlies like Argosy and Adventure, and his first novel, Buckskin Brigades, had come out the year before, but he and his first wife, Louise ‘Polly’ Grubb, and their two small children — Ron Jr, 4, whom they called ‘Nibs,’ and Katie, 2 — lived with his parents, Harry Hubbard (a Naval officer) and May.

We don’t know how well known it is that Ron and his little family were still living with mom and dad at that time, but our researcher who pores through old news clippings and census records found definite evidence of this, which he brought us recently, along with a series of clippings about Hubbard’s years there before he went off to war.

And one thing we took away from it was that while Hubbard was making a living writing tales of derring-do set in the Wild West and on the bounding main, he wanted very much to project the idea that he himself was a man of adventure and not simply a Washington state dad stuck at home with his parents.


But that reputation was about to take a serious beating from a local authority.

On December 22, 1938, columnist H.E. Jamison, who wrote about sailing matters for the Seattle Star, published a “sad, sad story about a man and his boat.”

Now, it’s not entirely clear whether Jamison had actually talked to L. Ron Hubbard personally before laying out Hubbard’s sad day with his new 28-foot ketch, the Conquistador One. But Jamison seemed to have a lot of detail at his fingertips, from the names of Ron’s guests to details about how the boat, which had been sitting around quite a while before Ron bought it, proceeded to fall apart once they were on the Sound and the engine quit.

“To add to the fun, it was raining,” Jamison pointed out, as he described poor Ron having to rely on the mercy of a passing fisherman to tow his ketch, who then committed the unforgivable sin of sailing through the nets of his fellow fisher folk. He then cut Ron and his guests loose.

It was the tide that eventually saved Ron as his craft swept into a cave on Bainbridge Island and some “willing shoreside hands gave the conquered conquistadores a lift.”

Jamison added that Ron eventually sent for the boat later and got the engine fixed.

We can only imagine how much Ron panicked when he realized how bad he looked in this column as the hapless fool who had been swindled when he bought a bad boat and nearly got his guests killed. But in the ensuing days, he must have set out to do something about it.

A week later, Jamison’s column had a very different tone. He practically turned over his entire article to entries from Ron’s log from “Toughey,” what he claimed he’d named his auxiliary yacht, not “Conquistador One.”

Ron described generally what Jamison had the week before, but with a lot more nautical terms thrown in to make sure no one could mistake that Ron was anything but an old salt and knew what he was doing on the water. This was a man, after all, who had organized a sailing adventure on the Doris Hamlin to the Caribbean with his fellow college students some seven years earlier.

(That trip was an utter disaster, but the Seattle Star readers didn’t need to know that!)

Ron, supposedly quoting his ship’s log, tells a tense tale of his flashlight battery dying while hoping against hope to spot the fisherman who will tow him to shore. (Writing for the pulps, Ron at least knew how to tell a suspenseful yarn.)

And, just to be clear that Ron was all good with Jamison, he said it was Jamison’s columns that sold him on the idea of sailing the Sound to begin with, and that his publisher was interested in a book about it. Ron also said his next adventure would be sailing to Alaska.

Within a few weeks, the Bremerton Daily News Searchlight could report that “Captain Hubbard” had been appointed advisor to the sailors of the Bremerton Junior Yacht Club, and that refreshments would be served at his house after the juniors held a race.

And later in 1939, the Searchlight reported that Ron had told a Kiwanis Club meeting that he was headed to New York to “confer with his publishers over the coming production of a book on philosophy which he has recently rewritten.” (This appears to be one of Ron’s many tall tales about his fabulous manuscript for ‘Excalibur,’ a proto-Dianetics work that he claimed would cause people to throw themselves off buildings if they read it.)


“Mr. Hubbard will be in the East all winter, but expects to return to Bremerton and his fiction work next spring. Mrs. Hubbard will spend the winter with her relatives in California.” (Polly was the smart one.)

In the summer of 1940, Ron got around to his Alaska adventure, as Russell Miller describes so well in his biography of Hubbard, Bare-Faced Messiah.

In July and August, Ron had taken Polly on a genuinely dangerous voyage in his yacht the Magician, or Maggie, about 700 miles from Bremerton to Ketchikan, at the southern end of Alaska’s panhandle.

Ron had told various equipment suppliers that he was leading the “Alaskan Radio-Experimental Expedition” on behalf of the US Coast and Geodetic Survey and the US Navy Hydrographic Office. But to a Ketchikan newspaper, he admitted that the voyage was really about a dare.

“It seems Ron told the newspaper that friends had wagered it was impossible to sail a vessel as small as the ‘Maggie’ to Alaska and he was determined to prove them wrong,” Miller writes.

Miller describes how Ron and Polly were stranded in Ketchikan until they could get a new crankshaft shipped to them, so Ron used the several weeks they were stuck there becoming something of a star storyteller on the local radio station, KGBU.

Once the new equipment arrived, they sailed home to the amazement of Seattle Star columnist H.E. Jamison, who by now appeared to be a bona fide L. Ron Hubbard fan.

The Searchlight even treated Polly as a local celebrity by this point, noting in February 1941 that she gave a talk about her “exciting six months in Alaskan waters” to the Bremerton Pen Club.

Then came the war, and Ron’s fortunes lay elsewhere, with an ill-fated command in Boston Harbor, a disastrous stint in Australia, a comical attack on a nonexistent submarine in Oregon, and then finally there was the incident of opening fire on a Mexican island for target practice. (He never actually saw combat in any theater of the war.)

But near the end of the conflict, in February 1945, Ron did briefly come home to the Bremerton area, and received this glowing write-up in the Searchlight by its ‘In Uniform’ columnist Bonny Olson…

AUTHOR HOME — In Bremerton renewing acquaintances and catching up on local news from his friends is Lieut. L. Ron Hubbard, U.S.N.R., who recently completed a course on military government at Princeton Universiety and who is now home on 15 days leave. Well-known as an author to “Argosy” and “Adventure” fans, Lt. Hubbard also has one novel to his credit — “Buckskin Brigade,” a story of the Hudson Bay areas.

A member of the Explorers’ Club and a fellow of the American Geological Society, Lieutenant Hubbard began active naval duty in June, 1941, and shortly after the outbreak of the war sailed as executive officer aboard a transport for Australia. Since that time he can look back on duty in the Southwest Pacific theater and a series of happenings with submarine and amphibious warfare.

He was one of a group of selected officers, who had previous experience in the Orient, to take the course on military government. Lieutenant Hubbard has traveled extensively around the globe and lived for several years in the Orient, Guam, Japan and in the Marianas with his parents. He is visiting his father, Lt. Cmdr. Harry Hubbard, U.S.N., who has returned after two years in the Aleutians.

Married and the father of L. Ron, Jr., 11, and Kay, 8 1/2, Lieutenant Hubbard is a man to be smiled upon by Bremerton’s Chamber of Commerce. He returned from the East with version of their weather, descriptions of freezing temperatures and nothing but loud and loving praise for the great Northwest.


Hubbard, whose picturesque cottage in the woods near Colby overlooks Puget Sound, the mountains and the Seattle Harbor, prefers to “get away from it all” when pounding out those stirring adventures. He was the chief reason for a publication entitled “Unknown” and every month “batted out” a 40,000-word novel for that Street and Smith magazine. It was published to take care of the type of stories Hubbard writes.

While getting local news from his friend, State Representative Bob Ford, on Saturday, Hubbard was asked if he had any post-war plans.

“A few,” he admitted with a grin. “I want to write novels and books of social significance — valid novels.” Then, with a faraway look in his eye, he told of having received a map mailed to him while he was in the South Pacific. Uncharted on any geographical map, it is called Ounga Bula (pronounced Wonga Boola), and is yet to be officially discovered. “So I’ll become an explorer again and find that island some day,” he said.

Although Hubbard admits he had a part in the initial landing at Lamaya, he dislikes talking about his war experiences. He would rather reminisce of the days of writing detective fiction, adventure stories and fantastic tales.

Ron did manage to crank out some novels many years after the war, but the “social significance” of Battlefield Earth and the Mission Earth series is highly doubtful.

And as far as we know, he never did track down the island of Ounga Bula.

Maybe it’s on Target Two.


Technology Cocktail

“Many are the cunning rebuttals and tales put out by an auditor whose certificate has been pulled. Just remember when you hear them that the person putting them out refused auditing for a long time before he lost his certificates and that HCO has evidence of criminal activities by that person it is not publishing. We don’t ‘pull’ two certificates a year in all the thousands around the world. Help us keep it low by making our demand that offenders get audited, where we can supervise it, stick. It’s only kindness.” — L. Ron Hubbard, 1960




We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links as Danny faces a potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison. NOW WITH TRIAL INDEX.


THE PODCAST: How many have you heard?

[1] Marc Headley [2] Claire Headley [3] Jeffrey Augustine [4] Bruce Hines [5] Sunny Pereira [6] Pete Griffiths [7] Geoff Levin [8] Patty Moher [9] Marc Headley [10] Jefferson Hawkins [11] Michelle ‘Emma’ Ryan [12] Paulette Cooper [13] Jesse Prince [14] Mark Bunker [15] Jon Atack [16] Mirriam Francis [17] Bruce Hines on MSH

— SPECIAL: The best TV show on Scientology you never got to see

[1] Phil Jones [2] Derek Bloch [3] Carol Nyburg [4] Katrina Reyes [5] Jamie DeWolf

— The first Danny Masterson trial and beyond

[18] Trial special with Chris Shelton [19] Trial week one [20] Marc Headley on the spy in the hallway [21] Trial week two [22] Trial week three [23] Trial week four [24] Leah Remini on LAPD Corruption [25] Mike Rinder 2022 Thanksgiving Special [26] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part One [27] Jane Doe 4 (Tricia Vessey), Part Two [28] Claire Headley on the trial [29] Tory Christman [30] Bruce Hines on spying [31] Karen de la Carriere [32] Ron Miscavige on Shelly Miscavige [33] Karen de la Carriere on the L’s [34] Mark Bunker on Miscavige hiding [35] Mark Plummer [36] Mark Ebner [37] Karen Pressley [38] Steve Cannane [39] Fredrick Brennan [40] Clarissa Adams [41] Louise Shekter [42] John Sweeney [43] Tory Christman [44] Kate Bornstein [45] Christian Stolte [46] Mark Bunker [47] Jon Atack [48] Luke Y. Thompson [49] Mark Ebner


Source Code

“I’ll give you an idea. You’re coffee shopping with somebody and you say, ‘You realize that there’s a GPM devoted to homosexuality in the between-lives implants? There is one!’ And he says, ‘Oh, I don’t really think so.’ He says, ‘Well, get the idea now, just get the idea of “to be a homosexual.” Just get that idea for a moment, and you’ll see.’ Ha! That, of course, throws that GPM alive, see? Just discussing it isn’t going to do very much about it, see. You got to concentrate, somebody’s got to concentrate his attention on it! Him or somebody else, you know, has got to look right at it, you know, straight at it and bang!” — L. Ron Hubbard, August 28, 1963



Avast, Ye Mateys

“With a checksheet on this and on that, Ship Admin and Specialist actions as well as standard Pol and Tech courses, a member of Flag gets to be one of the most educated fellows you ever did see. If the society taught all these things in college it would be quite a society. A member of Flag doesn’t really realize all he’s come to know I suppose until he compares it to what others know or don’t know. Some of the actions of the world or society or other ships look pretty dim.” — The Commodore, August 28, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“If you bothered to talk to your spirits instead of getting rid of them you would find out that many of them would rather be managed and be productive rather than sit around and grumping at each other. OT 7s and OT 8s still have tons of spirits (BT’s) around them and do not recognize that these beings are there since they have attested to being free of them. I give my spirits a choice after freeing them from the incidents they are stuck in. They are free to start a new life or they can join me and work on my projects. About 18 percent want to stay and help.”


Past is Prologue

1995: Scientology raided the homes of Larry Wollersheim and Bob Bingham, founders of FACTNet, this week. An excerpt from a Scientology press release: “Armed with a federal court order, United States Marshals today raided residences in Boulder and Longmont seizing computer software, hardware and other equipment and documents to halt copyright infringements of
Scientology religious scriptures.” A poster summarized a report from The Rocky Mountain News: “‘Denver U.S. District Judge Lewis T. Babcock signed an order authorizing the raids’. According to Wollersheim, ‘They took us off line’. A picture accompanying the article shows Warren McShane, ‘president of the Religious Technology Center in Los Angeles, carr[ying] documents from the apartment of … Wollersheim. At left is U.S. marshal Steve Bush.’ According to the RMN, he ‘charges that the church practices secret rituals in which officials claim they are aliens from outer space whose purpose is to take over the Earth.’ The raid started at 9 am Tuesday morning and lasted for 8 hours, Scientology officials were present at the raid and took away material. A 7 hour raid was made in Niwot. Karin Pouw of Scientology ‘questioned why Wollersheim’s bulletin board should have non-profit, tax-exempt status.’ Wollersheim hopes that he will be represented by the ACLU.”



Random Howdy

“Hezbollah, Hamas, Black Panthers, IRA, and Hells Angels have all done more charity work than the Church of Scientology ever has or will.”


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Found guilty on two counts on May 31, remanded to custody. Sentencing on Sep 7.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Grand jury indictments include charges from an assault while in custody. Trial scheduled for August 15.
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud.

Civil litigation:
Leah Remini v. Scientology, alleging ‘Fair Game’ harassment and defamation: Complaint filed August 2, hearing on proof of service on Oct 3.
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Forced to arbitration. Plaintiffs allowed interlocutory appeal to Eleventh Circuit.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Appellate court removes requirement of arbitration on January 19, case remanded back to Superior Court. Stay in place at least through sentencing of Masterson on Sep 7.
Jane Doe 1 v. Scientology, David Miscavige, and Gavin Potter: Case unsealed and second amended complaint filed. Next hearing Nov 6.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Ordered to mediation.



After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?


[ONE year ago] Valerie Haney names Tom Cruise for arbitrator (and Shelly Miscavige if Tom is busy)
[TWO years ago] Tom Cruise’s Scientology superpowers, No. 5: Leaving his body with full perception
[THREE years ago] Clearwater Councilman Mark Bunker’s radical suggestion: Embrace Scientology?
[FOUR years ago] London, Scientology is coming for you!
[FIVE years ago] It’s primary day in Florida, and here’s how Scientology will be voting
[SIX years ago] Tomorrow’s ‘Leah Remini’: When Scientology destroys a family, it burns it to the ground
[SEVEN years ago] How Scientology’s anti-psychiatry front turns a real controversy into fake outrage
[EIGHT years ago] WOW: California judge orders trial to determine if Scientology drugged incoming rehab patients
[NINE years ago] Ladies and gentlemen, the greatest Scientology video in the history of Scientology videos
[TEN years ago] Scientology Legal Roundup: Per Wickstrom’s Fine Whine, And More!


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 3,135 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,650 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 3,200 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 2,190 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 2,071 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 5,375 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 3,246 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 2,351 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,798 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 4,140 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,706 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,625 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,792 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 4,374 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,635 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,671 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 3,387 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,951 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 1,266 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 2,441 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,992 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 4,123 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,461 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 9,316 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 4,435 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,791 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 7,094 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 3,200 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,598 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,474 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 3,039 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,552 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,806 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,915 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on August 28, 2023 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2022 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2022), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists | GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice | SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts | Shelly Miscavige, 15 years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast


Tony Ortega at Rolling Stone


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